Governing by numbers: audit culture and contemporary tales of universities’ accountability: Special Issue of the journal Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

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Recent decades have witnessed the increasing globalization, corporatization and hybridization of universities. As academics, professionals and students move across national boundaries, international rankings and ratings of universities have become widespread and influential, while various teaching and research measurement systems continue to be developed and applied. Since the 1990s, a radical growth of new managerial models, methods and “calculative technologies” (i.e. mission statements, output performance indicators, annual staff reviews, etc.) has aimed at enhancing performance and assuring quality of research and teaching. It has been also observed that teaching and research performance are now being quantified (Roberts, 2004; ter Bogt and Scapens, 2012; Kallio et al., 2017) more than ever before.

Scholars have focused on the reasons for the metamorphosis of universities into “transnational corporate universities”. The diffusion of the “audit culture” and new bureaucratic mechanisms designed to render the universities more accountable, manageable, efficient and visible through performance measures has been termed “coercive commensurability” or “tyranny of numbers” (Brenneis, Shore and Wright, 2005). The new accounting models of accountability have in several cases introduced new internal relations of power between academics and managers altering historically established roles and equilibria.

The effects of the “audit culture” and “calculative technologies” on academics, managers and other university stakeholders are significantly under-investigated from accounting and accountability perspectives. Through this Special Issue, we hope to reveal the complications surrounding the emerging issues within the complex settings of “hybrid” universities operating at the intersection of the market and state logics.

Topics for submission
We encourage submissions, based on case studies and other qualitative methodologies, in different contexts and from scholars across disciplines. Topics of interest include but are not limited to the following issues:

Which (and how) accounting and accountability challenges are influenced by the institutional changes in the high education field (e.g. the “leaking” of external funds, competition, rankings, ratings, public value and accountability)?

How do internal and external university stakeholders use their accounting and accountability models?

How do academics cope with the new “audit culture” and “calculative technologies” of hybrid universities?

What are the effects for academics of new forms of control and accountability?
How does the new “audit culture” challenge the role of professionals in universities?

What are the main aspects of external and internal auditing within the context of universities?

How can empirical studies on “audit culture” and “calculative technologies” in the academia contribute to accounting and accountability theories?
StatusPublicerad - 2018


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